An undercover police operation caught a Shropshire drugs runner “red-handed” after he obtained an estimated £40,000 worth of cocaine as part of a major drugs conspiracy, a court heard.
A jury at Stafford Crown Court heard that 32-year-old Benjamin Pengilly was the driver of a car that was followed by detectives to a Cheshire motorway service area in April of last year.
When Pengilly’s Skoda Octavia arrived back in Shrewsbury he and 39-year-old Philip Jennings, were arrested.
Pengilly, of Longden Coleham, Shrewsbury, denies conspiring with Jennings and 17 others from Shrewsbury and Telford to supply cocaine between July 2011 and July last year.
Yesterday the jury was told that Pengilly was one of 28 people arrested by West Mercia police following a covert operation which involved surveillance, listening devices and mobile phone monitoring.
Mr Michael Duck QC, prosecuting, said that Pengilly had a limited role in what was a significant drugs operation turning over vast amounts of drugs and cash.
“Those at the top did not soil their hands and it was people like Pengilly who were employed to take the risk,” he said.
The jury was told the base for the drug dealers was Phoenix Car Centre in Ditherington Road in Shrewsbury, selling and hiring cheap cars, run by two Telford men, Jonathan Rochford and Scott Dodd.
Police set up a listening device at the premises and surveillance produced evidence that led to 26 people pleading guilty to conspiracy charges, said Mr Duck.
He said one of the men involved was Andrew Morgan, 36, from Shrewsbury who was heard talking about the need to recruit drivers to collect drugs.
Mr Duck said Morgan was an associate of Jennings who, in turn was a friend of Pengilly.
On April 13 last year all three men were seen meeting outside the Old Bell pub in Abbey Foregate and Pengilly and Jennings later drove north to the M6 Knutsford Service Area.
“When Pengilly got out of the Skoda another man got into the car with Jennings. A minute later he got back out and got into a Citroen car and drove away,” said Mr Duck.
The case continues.